What Makes League Games So Different From Competitive Mode?

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What Makes League Games So Different From Competitive Mode?

Competitive Mode


This is where pros proved themselves worthy to compete at the top level of play. Of course, other games factored into their skill such as TF2 (Team fortress two) as well as any first-person shooters or MOBA gave todays professionals and semi pros a leg up on the competition. I’m not saying Overwatch like TF2 by any means but they are both hero shooters where your main focus is the objective and you use teamwork to win games. 6v6, that’s Overwatch for you. Whether it’s 4 beefy tanks and 2 healers or 3 damage heroes, 2 tanks and a skilled solo healer or even 2 from each it’s going to be a 6v6 where you try to out strategize the other team by starting with a good team comp.

First Steps to Competitive

Overwatch has a system set in place that prevents you from entering competitive (Overwatch’s ranked mode) until the rank of 25 which I’m sure most of you know if you have played Overwatch before. The purpose of this is to allow you to test out the heroes and get a generalized feel for the maps and how objectives work.  Typically, most will play quickplay to hone their skills and learn the game which is a 6v6 shortened comp match without ranks. When you play ranked at the beginning of each season you will have 10 placement matches which will do their best to place you at an appropriate SR (skill rating). Almost all the pros you will see in the OWL will have been in the top 500 at least once in their career and maintain their position. There are 8 tiers that have a range of SR’s separated by 500 SR starting with bronze all the way to “top 500.” Although, top 500 is not so much a tier as it is a title given to those that are the top 500 in SR.

Your typical comp match win will net you roughly positive 25 SR a win or negative 25 SR a loss, but will vary slightly on performance and how recently you placed. Pros will typically que solo and accept their 5 random teammates or will duo que so they have at least one teammate they have synergy with. Occasionally you will see more than 2 pros grouped up but it is uncommon because of que times. In order to maintain a top 500 rank, you must play 50 games throughout the season and play a set amount of games weekly to prevent SR decay, which actually extends too any player above 3000 SR which is diamond. Top 500 at the time of writing this article is about 4300 SR+. Pros will often stream their ranked play and you can watch and learn from them or just enjoy the stream.

What Makes Competitive Different From The League

Competitive manages to do a great job of requiring you to work with your team to win but in the long run your SR is based on your individual performance. The better you perform the more likely your team is to win. Like I mentioned earlier, your teammates are random. While you would hope good communication, and guaranteed flexible players are on your team, this is not always the case. Even in top 500 there will be people who don’t use a mic and choose to play without voice communications. While it makes it harder to win it is not impossible. Top 500 is also not immune to “one tricks.” One tricks are exactly what they sound like — someone who has only played one hero the entire season. In fact, back in season 11 before the Symmetra rework when she was a very niche pick and mostly used for defense on hybrid maps and 2 CP Muma (Austin Wilmot) of the Houston outlaws and Team USA in the OWWC (Overwatch World Cup) was streaming while matched with a Symmetra one trick that played her on every single map.

You might ask — how does a potential pro climb with these issues? The answer is they put in the time that is necessary to be a professional at anything. You will see streamers like XQC, the main tank from team Canada, casually streaming anywhere from 12-24 hours because this is their job. With enough time, not only are you developing your skills but you are also effectively erasing the loss streaks that are because of bad teammates. You will have so many random teammates, that it evens out because your team will have bad teammates one game and they will be on the enemy team the next.

League Play

While there are various levels of “league” play I’ll mostly be referencing OWL (Overwatch league) in particular. Contenders, which is just a step below, is similar and will have a lot in common as well as the OWWC which is on par with OWL. A lot of scouting is done from both for the OWL. Overwatch League is all about the team plays and with the decline of Mercy meta you will see that often times as soon as one team gets a one kill advantage they engage with the numbers advantage.  Communication is very quick and short. Often times a tank or support player will be the main source of this communication as they have the best view of the battle from their positioning.  Some of this communication and the same callouts are used in ranked as well. However, these will be basic things such as “Reaper has ult” or “Soldier is 1” (meaning soldier is a one shot kill.) Teams will go as far to have names for every spot on the map so they can focus one target out of position, which is really helpful especially in OWL when your teammates could be from a different country such as South Korea and you encounter a language barrier. 

League play is extremely organized and to win a fight you need the whole team to do their job. if one player is out of position the whole team will suffer because of it. In the OWL, games are played in a best of 5 series. It consists of 5 randomly chosen maps featuring all 4 game types – one from hybrid, one from Assault (2cp), one from control and one from escort. If necessary, a game 5 will be played on control or escort because the game types will not end in a draw (for instance, where the match scores are 2-2.)

You will probably see players that will play extremely well and appear to “carry” the team, but without the rest of the team doing their job they won’t win the 5-map series.

Teams generally consist of at least six players and the OWL actually requires that each team has a minimum of eight players for season 2. However, they can have up to 12 players total. With the player total being more than six you will see teams play certain players for different types of maps because some players are just most comfortable with certain maps or their main hero is very compatible with the game type.

Overwatch as an esport is not just a game, it is a sport where team work and strategies prevail and the team that finds the best strategies and maximizes their player’s skills will win in the end. Overwatch League Season 2 starts February 14th, 2019 with 12 returning teams as well 8 new teams featuring: Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, and the Hangzhou Spark (leak) of China, Paris Eternal of France, Toronto Defiant and Vancouver(unknown) of Canada, and Washington D.C. as Washington Justice (leak) and Atlanta Reign of the U.S.

Disclaimer: Leaks not verified.

Image Via: DBLTAP

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Alex Mcalpine
Alex graduated from UWO with a degree in journalism. He is a Battle Royale and FPS guru. He often reads 'Winner Winner Chicken Dinner' as he is ranked in the top 100 on the PUBG leaderboards. Alex is also an Overwatch and CoD expert. You can learn more about Alex via our About page.